A third of corporate Australia is feeling stressed, anxious and depressed

Fred Marie / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
  • A large study into the mental health of corporate Australia shows almost one third suffering from some form of mental illness.
  • Of those, 36% were suffering from depression, 33% from anxiety and 31% from stress.
  • A decade ago only one in five Australians were found to be suffering from a mental illness.

Australian workplaces are increasingly suffering from depression, anxiety and stress, according to a large study of mental health in corporate Australia.

Mental illness appears to have increased by a third in the last decade. Depression is now the primary mental health disorder.

The results of Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-In finds that one third of program participants were suffering from some form of mental illness, with 36% suffering from depression, 33% from anxiety, and 31% from stress.

This is the first time depression has exceeded anxiety which has traditionally been twice as common as depression. Australia’s last official figures in 2007 list anxiety at 14.4% and depression at 6.2%.

The program, using data from 3,500 employees across 41 organisations from a range of industries, was conducted by mental health technology group Medibio.

An overview of the results:

The results of Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-In. Source: Medibio

It uses responses from 100 profiling questions, as well as capturing heart-rate data using wearable devices during sleep, to provide a more objective understanding of employee mental health in Australia.

“A decade ago one in five Australians were found to be suffering from a mental illness in any given year,” says psychologist Peta Slocombe, the Check-in program Creator and Medibio senior vice president of Corporate Health.

“The manner in which we all live, work and interact has changed radically since then — to the detriment of our mental health.

“And yet organisational approaches to mental health have not kept pace.”

The program found most people didn’t realise they had a mental health disorder.

Almost three quarters (73%) of men who scored in clinical ranges for a mental health disorder were unaware they had one at the time of the survey.

Most were not seeking help. Of those in moderate to severe ranges, only 17% were getting some form of treatment.

Mental illness is still considered too difficult to raise with a manager. Fewer than half (47%) of Australians are comfortable disclosing a mental health condition to a manager.

The average corporate male

Men keep it hidden, regulating emotions and managing stress internally. They appear okay, until they’re not okay. They are less likely to seek social support. Trying to problem solve alone are hallmarks of corporate males.

The average corporate female

They worry more about how they use their time. Female perfectionism and self-criticism are strongly linked to anxiety. A third (33%) of women are in high ranges for perfectionism, compared to 21% of men. 44% of females use self-criticism as a primary stress response, compared to 34% of men.

Peta Slocombe says depression is estimated to cost Australia $12.6 billion a year.

“The idea of the Mental Health Check-In was born out of the fact that we as a global society don’t think about taking care of our mental health in the same way we do our physical health,” says Slocombe.

“It’s time that we change that.”

(NOTE: If you are experiencing a personal crisis, Lifeline‘s 24 hour help line is on 13 11 14.)

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